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How to Find Real-Life, Funny Stories To Tell


Funny stories to tell are highly sought after because everyone loves funny stories. Everyone. Storytelling is a part of every culture and in some cases, storytelling is the main means cultures pass down history. Stories with humor in them are always the favorite. I’m a storyteller and you can be one too.

At almost every event I speak at I’m asked a very common question; “Where can I look to find funny stories to tell?” My response is always, “Are you kidding? Do you have parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, pets, weird uncles (aunts too)?” the list goes on and on. Humor is all around us and always has been. Some funny stories you remember right away, some you just need a little bit of reminding. Some may be repressed, and some surface when you hear a funny story and you think, “That’s funny, but I remember it this way …”

I come from a funny family. I’m pretty lucky. My entire life (as far back as I can remember), in my family, I’ve either been the source of or a part of funny stories to tell. I have an older brother, Dan and a younger brother, Robin. My Dad (Bud) was career Air Force and served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He used to call it the Tri-Fecta of Wars. My Mom is Belle and for most of my life was a housewife who supplemented our family income by working as a beauty counselor and other part-time work. She also became a very accomplished artist. We weren’t rich in dollars, but we were very rich in laughter.

Funny Stories To Tell Often Come From Family Memories

When I was 9 years old my dad was stationed in Lewistown, Montana where we lived at a remote radar site. We camped, fished, and Dan and I spent most of our lives then in the woods, around the base with our friends.   

One Monday, my dad announced he was going fishing that coming weekend and invited my older brother to go. He explained to me that Mom and I could “man the fort” at home as my father often said. I was not amused and adamant I should be able to go too. Both my brother and my dad told me I was too young and it would be dangerous. I pitched a tantrum almost nonstop for 4 days. I tried to get my mom to go too, but she had no desire to stand in the rain and fish — she had Mom stuff to do.  She told me that there would be more fishing trips and that I could go next time when the family camped or when I was bigger. Something I could “look forward to”.

This is where my memory of the incident ends. In my mind, I had been wronged and with a “stiff upper lip” I endeavored to persevere. I remember distinctly waving to them as they drove off in our 1960 Suburban.

However, not to many years ago, for some reason this quaint story resurfaced during the holidays when the whole family was together and I was forced to remember the “rest of the story”.

According to my older brother, back then on that fateful Friday night I was “insufferable,” pouting about not being able to go until after dinner when I stopped pouting and gave everyone “the silent treatment”. 

Early the next morning, my father and brother were preparing their fishing poles, waders, and lures. While moving his rubber waders from the house to the car he noticed something odd. There appeared to be fluid in his waders which wasn’t possible since they had hung upside down in the garage for several days after his last fishing trip. He smelled the boots and discovered they contained of all things, urine. Who had peed in his waders? What diabolical mind would do something like that? Don’t get a head of me here, OK?

Now this is where abstract reasoning comes into play. At 9 years old, I lacked this crucial reasoning tool and would not possess it for several more years. Abstract reasoning works like this; Mom is home with a young child and has 1 cookie in the cookie jar and forbids the child to take the cookie in the morning. She later goes to give that last cookie to the child in the afternoon only to find out the cookie jar is empty. Abstract reasoning would lead her in the following thought process: She didn’t take the cookie, no one else was in the home other than the young child (yes it was me), and so it must have been stolen by the young child when she wasn’t looking (now you know it was me). To young children, their parents must be “magical”. How could they know if they weren’t there? Nobody saw me, I had planned that caper with the precision of Mission Impossible standards. To Mom it’s just a part of growing up as my mom.

Back to the fishing trip with Dad and Dan, which is actually known previously by everyone in my family (except me) as, “the time Tim peed in Dad’s fishing boots”.

Mom and Dad then accused me of this heinous crime though I was adamant it wasn’t me. Unfortunately, my parents possessed the gift of abstract reasoning due to their advanced age. To me they were just guessing. But to Dad and Mom it was simple. Like an episode of Colombo, my mother explained to me how she and dad knew I was the culprit.   

Mom said, “It wasn’t me, I didn’t want to go fishing.” I nodded, thinking, continue with this “fishing trip” and try and catch me. She added, “It wasn’t your dad because he got to go and he wouldn’t pee in his own boots.” Ok, good point. She continued, “It wasn’t Dan either because he got to go. The only person who could have done it was you.” Drat! Double Drat! Foiled again.

Spock couldn’t argue with that logic. 

My Dad had no choice but to punish me. In addition, I was sent to my room with no TV privileges to contemplate on my crimes until I showed remorse and confessed. 

At least that’s how everyone (other than me) remembered it.

Years later, (after I had the gift of abstract reasoning myself) while Dad was stationed in Colorado Springs he went fishing without Dan and I and took his father, Claire Sr. instead. When they got home, Grandpa told us that “someone” had put a can of worms in Dad’s trunk a few weeks before their trip and forgotten to remove it. It had simmered in the hot sun for 2 weeks attaining an aroma so strong that when my Grandpa opened up the trunk, the foul smell was so bad it made him physically ill.

“Now lets figure out this mystery …” I said, “ I didn’t do it because I am not old enough to drive and don’t have access to the locked trunk. Mom didn’t do it because she has refused to handle the fishing worms her entire life and would never touch them for any reason. Dan didn’t do it because he too couldn’t drive yet (see my previous reason). Grandpa didn’t do it because he lives in Denver and also didn’t have access to the trunk before that day. Once again, abstract reasoning solved the mystery. Case closed. Dad did it.”

Unfortunately I was unable to punish him and send him to his room, but he got the point.

Real-life funny stories to tell are everywhere, all throughout your life. Look back, be present, reminisce with family and friends. I promise you’ll find your own original, funny stories to tell.

-Tim Gard, CSP, CPAE

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